Rangers thump St Johnstone but goal-line controversy mars victory for Steven Gerrard’s side

22 Sep

Jermain Defoe capped an impressive second-half performance from Rangers with two late goals as Steven Gerrard’s side coasted to a 4-0 victory over St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park.

The Saints, though, will feel hard done by after a Murray Davidson shot was adjudged to have not crossed the goal-line at 2-0, only for Defoe to charge up the other end and score his first.

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard
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From the moment prolific striker Alfredo Morelos broke Saints’ resistance two minutes after the interval with his 12th goal of the campaign, all three points were heading back to Glasgow.

Defender Connor Goldson doubled the advantage to remove any possibility of a post-Europe hangover before substitute Defoe finished things off with his late brace.

With midfielder Jason Holt ruled out by the terms of his loan agreement from the Ibrox club, Perth manager Tommy Wright handed David Wotherspoon his first start of the campaign, hard on the heels of representing Canada against Cuba.

Gerrard’s red-shirted Rangers starting line-up featured two changes from the side which defeated Feyenoord in Thursday’s Europa League tie, with Joe Aribo and Brandon Barker coming in for Glen Kamara and Scott Arfield.

Before kick-off both teams lined up in the centre-circle to observe a minute’s silence in memory of former Gers captain Fernando Ricksen, who died this week at the age of 43 following a six-year battle with motor neurone disease.

The visitors were presented with a fourth-minute opportunity when Murray Davidson fouled Sheyi Ojo 25 yards from goal.

Rangers full-back Borna Barisic converted a wonder strike against St Mirren recently but this time his left-footed effort curled wide of the target.

In the 13th minute Morelos burst onto an Aribo pass and, with marker Jason Kerr caught flat-footed, the striker was denied at the near post by goalkeeper Zander Clark, at the expense of a fruitless corner.

Soon after wideman Ojo tested Clark again with an 18-yard curling strike after sprinting away from grounded defender Scott Tanser.

The on-loan Liverpool winger edged another shot inches past the far post as the half-hour mark approached as Rangers looked for the breakthrough.

Morelos scored the opening goal of the game
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Despite their dominance, the visitors relied on goalkeeper Allan McGregor to keep the scoreline level when the ball glanced off Filip Helander’s head to an unattended Michael O’Halloran in the penalty area.

The Saints winger sensed his opportunity to strike against his former team but McGregor made up ground to brilliantly block his prodded effort.

There was no way through for either side before the break, but Rangers took just two minutes to seize the initiative after the restart.

Midfielder Ryan Jack’s perceptive long ball from defence was pounced upon by Morelos and the Colombian bundled Tanser aside before advancing to smash a ferocious right-footed strike past Clark.

Saints midfielder Ali McCann might have levelled immediately but the teenager scuffed his close-range effort straight at McGregor.

Jermain Defoe scored two late goals

Rangers put the outcome beyond doubt in the 61st minute when centre-back Goldson was given time and space to guide a 12-yard header into the corner of the net from a James Tavernier delivery.

Saints, without a league win this term, began to look ragged and Clark denied substitute Scott Arfield with a full-length save before the outstanding Aribo saw a close looping range header rebound off the crossbar.

With 11 minutes remaining, Morelos departed to a standing ovation from the bulk of the 6,251 supporters.

And after surviving Saints’ claims that a Davidson shot had crossed the line before being scrambled clear by Steven Davis, Gers’ replacement striker Defoe underlined his quality with two clinical penalty box finishes in the space of two minutes to wrap up the win.

Celtic come from behind to beat Kilmarnock and maintain lead at top of Scottish Premiership

22 Sep

Celtic avoided a shock defeat to Kilmarnock after coming from behind to win 3-1 in Glasgow on Sunday.

Odsonne Edouard cancelled out Eamonn Brophy’s opener just before the break, and then put the hosts in front eight minutes into the second-half.

Neil Lennon’s side are yet to taste defeat in the league so far this season
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Ryan Christie wrapped up the points soon after as Neil Lennon’s side maintained their three-point lead over Rangers at the top of the Scottish Premiership.

More to follow

Ronaldo at Rangers? Ally McCoist jokes Barcelona, Inter and Real Madrid legend would not have got a game at Ibrox if completed sensational transfer

19 Sep

Ronaldo would not have got near the Rangers team if he joined, as his agent claimed he almost did in 1997.

On the legendary Brazil striker’s 43rd birthday on Wednesday, talkSPORT unearthed an interview with Giovanni Branchini from 2016, in which he revealed the Gers were close to completing the transfer of the century.

He claimed Rangers were one of three clubs chasing Ronaldo in ’97 when he was unhappy at Barcelona, and offered to sign him in a sensational deal worth £20million that stated he only had to play Champions League games and not in the Scottish Premiership.

Ronaldo ultimately decided to join Inter Milan despite very serious interest from Rangers, according to his agent
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But McCoist was having none of it when told about the news on Thursday’s Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast and couldn’t stop laughing at the suggestion he could have been playing alongside – or more likely replaced by – the three-time world player of the year.

After host Brazil read out Branchini’s comments with a grin, McCoist replied: “What?!

“Frankly, I can’t believe that.

“Are you telling me Ronaldo could’ve signed for Rangers before Inter Milan?

“He wouldnae have got a game!”

The Sports Breakfast crew then played out a spoof ‘translation’ of a Ronaldo interview from the same year, in which he appeared to say he was happy to move to Ibrox… until he learned the number nine shirt was already taken.

Ronaldo’s ‘translator’ said: “Glasgow Rangers are a great cub and have great players, like Gascoigne, Laudrup and Guttuso and I was happy to sign for them. Unfortunately I was told the number nine shirt was already taken.

“I can’t remember his name now, but they told me he was a key member of the squad for making the teas and giving Gascoigne a lift to training. It’s a shame, but I’m sure he will win them the Champions League, just like I would have done.”

Ally laughed: “Haha! By the way, you had me going there. I don’t mind telling you that you had me going for 15 seconds.”

We’ve heard Ronaldo is a fan of a chocolate digestive or two… packets
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Coisty is a legend at Ibrox, an icon who smashed scoring records during his glittering 15-year stay with the Glasgow club… but he is under no illusions who will win the fight if he was ever compared to the World Cup winner.

He added: “Me and Ronaldo have got one thing in common now – size!

“What a player he was.

Sir Bobby Robson had him at PSV and Barcelona and I remember watching Bobby on TV and he was raving about Ronaldo.

“He was some player. He had this brilliant finish when he always rounded a goalkeeper with his pace.

“If you put him through, 99 times out of 100 he’d use his pace to go round the keeper and stick it in the back of the net.”

Listen back to Ally McCoist on the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast above

Ronaldo at Rangers? Ally McCoist jokes Barcelona, Inter and Real Madrid legend would not have got a game at Ibrox if completed sensational transfer

19 Sep

Ronaldo would not have got near the Rangers team if he joined, as his agent claimed he almost did in 1997.

On the legendary Brazil striker’s 43rd birthday on Wednesday, talkSPORT unearthed an interview with Giovanni Branchini from 2016, in which he revealed the Gers were close to completing the transfer of the century.

He claimed Rangers were one of three clubs chasing Ronaldo in ’97 when he was unhappy at Barcelona, and offered to sign him in a sensational deal worth £20million that stated he only had to play Champions League games and not in the Scottish Premiership.

Ronaldo ultimately decided to join Inter Milan despite very serious interest from Rangers, according to his agent
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But McCoist was having none of it when told about the news on Thursday’s Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast and couldn’t stop laughing at the suggestion he could have been playing alongside – or more likely replaced by – the three-time world player of the year.

After host Brazil read out Branchini’s comments with a grin, McCoist replied: “What?!

“Frankly, I can’t believe that.

“Are you telling me Ronaldo could’ve signed for Rangers before Inter Milan?

“He wouldnae have got a game!”

The Sports Breakfast crew then played out a spoof ‘translation’ of a Ronaldo interview from the same year, in which he appeared to say he was happy to move to Ibrox… until he learned the number nine shirt was already taken.

Ronaldo’s ‘translator’ said: “Glasgow Rangers are a great cub and have great players, like Gascoigne, Laudrup and Guttuso and I was happy to sign for them. Unfortunately I was told the number nine shirt was already taken.

“I can’t remember his name now, but they told me he was a key member of the squad for making the teas and giving Gascoigne a lift to training. It’s a shame, but I’m sure he will win them the Champions League, just like I would have done.”

Ally laughed: “Haha! By the way, you had me going there. I don’t mind telling you that you had me going for 15 seconds.”

We’ve heard Ronaldo is a fan of a chocolate digestive or two… packets
GETTY

Coisty is a legend at Ibrox, an icon who smashed scoring records during his glittering 15-year stay with the Glasgow club… but he is under no illusions who will win the fight if he was ever compared to the World Cup winner.

He added: “Me and Ronaldo have got one thing in common now – size!

“What a player he was.

Sir Bobby Robson had him at PSV and Barcelona and I remember watching Bobby on TV and he was raving about Ronaldo.

“He was some player. He had this brilliant finish when he always rounded a goalkeeper with his pace.

“If you put him through, 99 times out of 100 he’d use his pace to go round the keeper and stick it in the back of the net.”

Listen back to Ally McCoist on the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast above

Fernando Ricksen was a ‘real fighter,’ says Ally McCoist in heartfelt tribute to Rangers icon after his death

19 Sep

Ally McCoist has paid a fitting tribute to Rangers icon and ‘lad full of fun’ Fernando Ricksen, who passed away this week after a battle with motor neurone disease.

The Glasgow club confirmed their former full-back’s passing on Wednesday. He was just 43 and is survived by his wife and daughter.

Ricksen was a key figure at Ibrox during his six-year spell with the Gers, winning two Scottish titles, plus the league, Scottish Cup and League Cup treble in the 2003/04 season. He was also the joint winner of the SPFA Player of the Year gong in 2004/05.

McCoist says Fernando Ricksen was ‘daft enough’ to fit right into Rangers’ nine-in-a-row side of the 90s
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And while he didn’t play alongside him in blue shirt, McCoist had a close friendship with his follow Rangers hero and hailed him as a ‘fighter’ after his tragic death.

“What a fight and what a fighter,” Ally said on Thursday’s Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast.

“He was incredible. He tried to raise as much money as he possibly could, even in the last months of his illness, for others suffering from the illness

“He was a real fighter and I can’t help but think of his wife Veronika and his wee daughter Isabella. It’s a real tragedy.

Hundreds of tributes have been left at the Ibrox gates in tribute to Fernando Ricksen
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“It’s certainly brought Scottish football together, a lot of the clubs up in Scotland came out with some lovely messages.

“It’s very sad.”

McCoist said the highest praise he could pay Ricksen is that he would have slotted right into the all-conquering Rangers side of the 90s alongside himself and Paul Gascoigne that won nine Scottish first division titles in a row.

“The biggest compliment I can pay Fernando – and he was a lad full of fun and there was never a dull moment – is that he was daft enough that he wouldn’t have looked out of place in our squad with Gascoigne and others like that.

“Don’t get me wrong he could play as well. You don’t play for your country if you’re not a player. But some of the stories – he was a real character.”

Watch a clip of Ally McCoist remembering Fernando Ricksen above

Fernando Ricksen: Rangers confirm former player has died, aged 43, following battle with motor neurone disease

18 Sep

Fernando Ricksen has died following a lengthy battle with motor neuron disease, his former club Rangers have confirmed.

In a statement on their website, the Ibrox club wrote: “Rangers is deeply saddened to announce that former player Fernando Ricksen passed away this morning following his battle with motor neurone disease.”

Ricksen, who spent six years with the Gers, revealed he was suffering with MND in 2013.

He fought a lengthy battle against the condition and helped to raise awarness and funds for the Fernando Ricksen Foundation, which aims to help others suffering from the illness.

Rangers added: “The thoughts of everyone at Rangers is today with his wife Veronika, his daughter Isabella and all his family and friends.”

More follows.

Scottish Premiership: Rangers beat Livingston but Ryan Kent gets injured, Celtic stay top, plus more

14 Sep

Rangers recovered from their Old Firm defeat before the international break to claim a 3-1 win over Livingston at Ibrox.

Steven Gerrard’s side appeared to be staring defeat in the face when Steven Lawless gave the away side the lead with an early second-half penalty.

Kent was visibly upset when he was forced off
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However, Gers responded brilliantly with goals from James Tavernier, Alfredo Morelos and Brandon Barker.

The three points came at a price though, with new signing Ryan Kent forced off injured in the first-half with a suspected hamstring injury.

This was Kent’s first game in Rangers colours since completing his £7million move from Liverpool.

Earlier, Celtic continued to set the pace at the top of the Scottish Premiership but somewhat laboured to a win at Hamilton.

Celtic claimed a deserved win at Hamilton
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James Forrest’s fourth-minute strike was all that separated the two sides as the Hoops made it five wins from five league matches.

The visitors largely controlled proceedings, with Forrest also going close by crashing an effort onto the bar after the break.

Hamilton grew into the game and forced a couple of half-chances but Celtic stood firm and claimed the three points.

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Below you can see the results in the other Scottish Premiership matches on Saturday…

Aberdeen 1-1 St Johnstone

Hearts 2-3 Motherwell

Kilmarnock 2-0 Hibernian

Ross County 1-1 St Mirren


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Steven Gerrard hits back at Charton boss Lee Bowyer for controversial claims about Joe Aribo’s Rangers transfer

13 Sep

Steve Gerrard has hit back at Charlton boss Lee Bowyer by insisting Rangers star Joe Aribo is playing football in the right place.

Bowyer was critical of Aribo for joining Rangers during the summer, arguing the former Addicks midfielder should’ve stayed in the Championship amid interest from Brentford.

Aribo has impressed in his first few games for Rangers
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“I worked so hard to get him to this situation he is in now,” the former Newcastle and Leeds midfielder said.

“If he goes to Rangers that is not the right place for him to go for his football career.

“It doesn’t make sense on the football side. When people from England go and play for Celtic and Rangers it is at the end of their careers. That’s because it is very rare you get a move from Rangers to the Premier League, and I don’t mean any disrespect by that. 

“They might go from Rangers to the Championship, very rarely is it to the Premier League. For me he should stay in England and keep progressing.”

Aribo has broken through on the international stage since impressing for Rangers, earning his first cap for Nigeria and scoring in their recent 2-2 friendly draw with Ukraine.

And Gerrard uses that as proof to suggest Bowyer’s comments were wide of the mark.

Gerrard said: “I spoke to Joe, he was on a recovery day. He is in a fantastic place, smiling away.

Gerrard has no doubts Aribo made the right decision to join Rangers
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“Congratulations to him, his first game and he manages to get a goal.

“And he was rewarded for his form as a Rangers player. It was his first call-up so it shows you he’s at the right place, playing football at the right level: European football, playing in Old Firms.

“At last he has been recognised as an international player.

“Joe Aribo is in the right place, trust me.

Bowyer said the Scottish Premiership was for players considering retirement
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“They must have started watching him since he was playing for Rangers.

“They must be happy with him playing in Europa League games and playing in front of 51,000.

“The people who select for the Nigerian national team know now that he can play in big football games.

“I don’t know many players in the Championship who are playing for Nigeria.”

Former Liverpool winger Ryan Kent says he was ‘lied to’ before completing summer transfer to Rangers

13 Sep

Former Liverpool winger Ryan Kent has claimed he was ‘lied to’ about his future before moving to Rangers during the summer.

The 22-year-old joined Liverpool as a youth player in 2003, and finally secured a permanent move away earlier this year, sealing a £7.5million switch to Rangers after impressing during a loan spell at Ibrox last season.

Kent scored six goals for Rangers during his successful loan spell last season
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Steven Gerrard, the Rangers manager, initially tried to agree a deal with his former club to bring Kent in on another season-long loan.

But Liverpool did not want to sanction another temporary switch, and the two clubs eventually agreed to a permanent move on Scotland’s transfer deadline day.

Kent featured for Liverpool during pre-season, but saw no path into the Reds’ first-team under Jurgen Klopp.

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Kent has revealed his final days as a Liverpool player were tough on him, and also accused the Merseysiders of lying to him.

“It was very tough,” said Kent. “I had to stay mentally strong, when you are told you can do one thing and then you are lied to and it doesn’t happen, that is quite hard to take.

“I just had to keep myself fit and train on my own and make sure I keep my fitness levels up and I was waiting for a moment like this to arrive. There’s no bitter taste, the thing that I wanted from the start happened at the end so I am just happy with that.

Ryan Kent made only one senior appearance for Liverpool, playing against Exeter in the FA Cup over three years ago
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“I would have liked to have been here from the start, it is quite difficult watching it on the TV wishing I was part of some of the games but I am delighted to be back and I can’t wait to get going.

“There were probably some slight concerns along the way when I thought this might not happen and I might have to plan for something else but I always had a feeling that it might go to the last day of the window and that’s what happened.”

Steven Gerrard takes aim at ‘careless’ Scotland coaching team after Ryan Jack aggravates knee injury

12 Sep

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard has taken aim at Scotland’s coaching team after accusing them of being ‘careless’ with Ryan Jack’s fitness.

The Gers midfielder aggravated an ongoing knee issue after joining up with the international squad last week.

Ryan Jack has aggravated an ongoing knee issue while on international duty for Scotland
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As a result Jack was ruled out of last Friday’s defeat by Russia before being sent back to his club ahead of Monday’s loss to Belgium.

Gerrard felt the 27-year-old had been overworked by the Scotland coaching staff after doing a double session two days after Rangers’ defeat by Celtic.

The former Aberdeen player is now a doubt for his club’s Scottish Premiership encounter with Livingston at Ibrox on Saturday.

Gerrard said: “Unfortunately he was asked to do an 11k session two days after an Old Firm, which made his knee flare up.

Steven Gerrard has accused the Scotland coaching team of being ‘careless’ with his midfielder’s fitness
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“So we have had to manage him, he has had to have a couple of procedures since.

“He did a light session with the physio today (Thursday) and we are hoping to get him into training tomorrow.

“I think it’s just careless. You should never, ever do 11k two days after playing 90 minutes. That’s the education I’ve had.”

Gerrard did not take up his frustration with national team manager Steve Clarke, who was one of the former Liverpool midfielder’s coaches at Anfield, leaving it instead to his fitness coach to speak to his Scotland counterpart.

The pair had a much publicised public fall-out earlier this year when Gerrard accused the then Kilmarnock manager of trying to get Jermain Defoe banned after Clarke highlighted what he claimed were inconsistencies in disciplinary action over simulation.

Gerrard added: “Ryan’s got a knee issue that he manages and he has done for a long time.

“The SFA are aware of that, their fitness coach is aware of that. I think everyone in Scotland watched the Old Firm and saw Ryan play 90 minutes.

“And then, 48 hours afterwards, he did a double session.”